GRB 980519 is characterized by its rapidly declining optical and X-ray afterglows. Explanations of this behaviour include models invoking a dense medium environment, which makes the shock wave evolve quickly into the subrelativistic phase, a jet-like outflow, and a wind-shaped circumburst medium environment. Recently, Frail et al. found that the latter two cases are consistent with the radio afterglow of this burst. Here, by considering the transrelativistic shock hydrodynamics, we show that the dense medium model can also account for the radio light curve quite well. The potential virtue of the dense medium model for GRB 980519 is that it implies a smaller angular size of the afterglow, which is essential for interpreting the strong modulation of the radio light curve. Optical extinction arising from the dense medium is not important if the prompt optical-UV flash accompanying the gamma-ray emission can destroy dust by sublimation out to an appreciable distance. Comparisons with some other radio afterglows are also discussed.